I'm sitting here, writing and formatting this post in my half-cleaned office. I spent most of yesterday cleaning my office enough so my hubby could move his old desktop computer into this room. And, yes, I'm using said computer to work on this post. *happy dance* Don't get me wrong, I love my laptop and my tablet and the portability they offer me, but there are times it's just easier to do things on a desktop (like when designing images like the one above).
Today I have a special guest. Not only is she a fellow MuseItUp sister, but she's an amazing author, wonderful mom, and I'm thrilled to call her friend (even if we haven't met in person yet!). Please help me welcome Katie Carroll as she shares her writing journey with us.
How I Became a Writer
By Katie L. Carroll
I thought my life as a writer began when I was 19 on particularly hot day in early spring 2002, a black-letter day, the blackest of black-letter days in fact. I was in college on track to becoming a physical therapist with an early acceptance into the graduate program. But I didn’t become a physical therapist; I became a writer.
I’ve since come to realize, with the help of my mom, that it was much earlier than that that I began my writing life. On my blog post on the release day of the ebook version of Elixir Bound, she wrote, “Although you would have done fine as a physical therapist, I always knew it was not your calling. You were a writer ever since you could pick up a pencil and I think I always knew that, after all the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (of course I’m talking about your dad).”
Well, my mom was mostly right. Even before I could pick up a pencil, my mom would read stories to us: the Little Golden Books, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, all kinds of fiction. I think that’s when I became a writer.
When I stop to think about it, I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out I was a writer. The signs were all there. My family and I used to write and illustrate our own picture books about the adventures of Sam the Billy Goat. At the climax of the story it would always read, “Voop Whoosh! Up went the Billy Goat.” And he would fly up to save the day.
I wrote (and sometimes illustrated) stories my whole childhood. In middle school, high school, and college I worked on the school newspapers. Yeah, I think I had been in a state of denial for 19 years…which brings us back to that black-letter day…April 16, 2002. The day my sister Kylene died.
I don’t like to talk about that day. How the forget-me-nots were in bloom. How there was recording-breaking high temps. How it was the worst day of my life.
So what do you do when your 19 and your sister’s just died? Well, once you’re in a place where you can think again, you reevaluate. Everything.
For me that meant rethinking what I wanted to do with my professional life. Kylene gave me the permission to pursue my passion. So I began writing. Eventually I decided not to continue studying to be a physical therapist. I kept writing, often not even sure who I was writing for. Kylene, an audience, myself?
I pursued publication. And got rejections, along with some encouragement. I revised, learned a lot more about the business of publishing. Wrote some more. Revised some more. Got a lot more rejections…You get the picture.
Ten years and four months after Kylene died, my book was finally born into the world. And what was that book about? A young woman, entrusted with the future of her family’s secret healing Elixir, goes on a quest to find the Elixir’s secret ingredient.
I don’t need a psychoanalyst to tell me I was fulfilling a wish with that book. It was supposed to be about Kylene, and it is in some ways, but it’s really about me. Because for those 10 years, it had been too hard to write Ky’s book. I tried. Elixir Bound started out from her point of view, but I just couldn’t write that book yet.
But I am writing it now. Elixir Saved, a follow-up to Elixir Bound, will be Kylene’s book.
You see, I believe each of us as an individual doesn’t truly realize the impact we have on people. Each person we touch—whether it be with a story, a hug, a smile as we pass a stranger on the street—leaves a ripple.
Kylene, in her short life, left lots of ripples. With the people she loved. With the people she cared about. The people she felt compassion for, which was pretty much everyone. The people she shared the Harry Potter books with. Even the nurses in the hospital from the short time she was sick felt her ripples.
I like to think that each ripple I make with Elixir Bound is really Ky’s ripple…because I’m not sure I would have discovered my life’s passion if it weren’t for Kylene. It makes my heart smile to think that Kylene is still making ripples on the world, and that I have my own little role to play in that.
Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.
It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.
Katie L. Carroll is a mother, author, and editor. Her YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND has been described as “The Lord of The Rings with a YA fiction twist.” She is also the author of a picture book app called THE BEDTIME KNIGHT. Her latest project is a collaborative, serialized middle grade mystery called THE GREAT CONNECTICUT CAPER, which is being released chapter-by-chapter starting in January 2015 and can be read at http://ctcaper.cthumanities.org/get-ready/. Katie worked as a puzzle magazine editor for Penny Publications for eight years before becoming a book editor for MuseItUp Publishing. For more about Katie, visit her website and blog at http://www.katielcarroll.com or follow her on Twitter @katielcarroll.